For Jimmy Lake, coaching Husky football is a dream come true

Jimmy Lake was born in California and lived five years each in Turkey and the Philippines. He played football at Eastern Washington University and also coached there and in the NFL. He served as defensive backs coach for the UW in 2004 and then again from 2016 to 2019. He recently finished his first season as head coach of the Huskies.

How did you get into coaching?

I started off playing football for Eastern Washington University. As I was finishing my degree, I served as an undergrad assistant linebackers coach and really enjoyed it. The following year, I got the linebackers coaching job at a very young age and coached players that I had played with.

What was it like to coach in the NFL?

It was a phenomenal experience. It really raised my coaching expertise to another level, and it helped me with coaching in college. Being around NFL coaches and players really elevated my game.

How did you get the original UW job as a defensive backs coach?

I coached at Eastern Washington for four years and it was time to grow and spread my wings. I was always looking for that next job so I could learn from other coaches. I heard the UW had a DB job open and I pursued it. When they offered me the job, my wife and I were ecstatic and crying.

What is it like being the head coach for the Huskies?

Even though we weren’t successful in 2004, we knew what a special place this is and what it could become. So, after a long journey of moving to a lot of states and taking jobs at colleges and in the NFL, and then becoming an assistant here, being the head coach is a dream come true.

What has it been like during COVID-19?

It’s definitely been a challenge. There have been a lot of obstacles to navigate that no one has had to navigate before. I’m thankful that we have an excellent staff, a strength and conditioning staff, a medical team, and that our coaches and players have been extremely resilient and able to deal with the situation of a pandemic. I’m very proud of how we’re holding up during COVID.

How good will the Huskies be in 2021?

We really feel like we have some unfinished business that we weren’t able to resolve in 2020. We have a lot of players who will go into their second season of running schemes that they learned last year. I know we will be able to take the next step in that department in terms of their knowledge and playing fast. And we are adding a lot of pieces with the 15 players we signed in 2020. We’re excited that we’re going to have spring football this year. We have a lot of hard work ahead, but we definitely have a lot of pieces that are coming back from a short successful run that we had last year. I feel that the future is bright.

How do you like working for the UW?

I’m extremely happy to be here. I love this city, I love this university, I love this area of the country. I’ve been all over the country, and this is my favorite area. I love our fan base, and I know how excited they are to watch us grow and try to bring a championship back to Seattle. It is a real honor to be here and to be working for the University of Washington.